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Water without borders

Press release issued: 21 October 2009

A student-led charity that focuses on eradicating poverty and removing barriers to international development through engineering will come together for their national conference this weekend.

A student-led charity that focuses on eradicating poverty and removing barriers to international development through engineering will come together this weekend to highlight research projects from around the country.

The Engineers Without Borders UK national conference, hosted by the University of Bristol, will take place on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October. 

 ‘Water without borders’ is the theme for this year’s conference.  To mark the opening of the conference there will be a free, public talk on Friday 23 October at 7.30 pm.  The main speaker will be Stephen Young, Senior Water and Sanitation Adviser at the UK government Department for International Development, with additional talks addressing the ‘water’ related work of both Bristol University and EWB-UK.

Paul Bates, Professor of Hydrology in the University’s School of Geographical Sciences, will provide an overview of the University’s research in this area, by showcasing the following four projects.

Developed by a team led by Professor Stephen Gundry and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aquatest will be an easy-to-use, low-cost device for testing drinking water in developing countries. The project’s vision is that within ten years, it will be in use in 80 per cent of developing countries.

Led by Professor Malcolm Anderson, the MoSSaiC (Management of Slope Stability in Communities) vision is to provide low cost, community level solutions for managing landslide risk in the tropics.  The MoSSaiC team is working with ten communities in four Caribbean countries to develop software tools, management interventions and local technical capacity in order to reduce landslide risks for the very poorest sectors of society. 

LISFLOOD-FP is a computer model for predicting flooding developed by a team led by Professor Paul Bates.  The model’s computational efficiency has allowed it to be applied to problems larger than those possible with standard hydraulic codes and it has been used for a wide variety of research relating to floodplain hydraulics and flooding.

The Havana Water Project, run by Bristol-EWB students, aims to address the leakage rate from Havana’s water supply system, which causes significant and potentially health threatening interruptions to water availability.  To date a prototype system to serve 5,000 people has been developed and this is currently being extended to cover a larger population.

Professor Nick Lieven, Dean of Engineering at the University of Bristol, who will open Friday’s talk, said: “EWB-UK is fantastic.  Engineering students around the country are doing great things for people that haven’t had the benefit of technology and infrastructure that we’re used to in the West.”

Andrew Lamb, Chief Executive of EWB-UK, added: “Our programmes give young UK engineers the opportunity to learn about technology’s role in development.  By taking part in our activities, and with the support of the EWB-UK community, our members are making a difference to people’s lives around the world.”

The public talk on Friday 23 October will start at 7.30 pm.  Admission is free, but places must be booked in advance by contacting Paul Harper on tel 0117 331 5506 or email


Further information

EWB-UK’s mission is to facilitate human development through engineering. The charity’s programmes provide opportunities for young engineers in the UK to learn about technology’s role in development. EWB-UK was founded in 2001 and has nearly 5,000 student members in 31 branches within UK universities.

The University of Bristol’s EWB-UK branch has over 400 members and is one of the largest and most successful student groups within the University, with much of its work focused on clean water issues.

The public talk on Friday 23 October will start at 7.30 pm. Speakers will include:
7.30 pm - Welcome - Prof Nick Lieven, Dean of Engineering, University of Bristol
7.40 pm - Keynote speaker - Stephen Young, Senior Water & Sanitation Advisor, UK government Department for International Development
8.20 pm - Water initiatives at Bristol University - Prof Paul Bates, School of Geographical Sciences
8.35 pm - Placement Volunteer Video - Mariam Niknejad, PRODECI Placement
9pm - Drinks reception with buffet provided by Bristol Fairtrade Café

Dr Sally Heslop, Senior Teaching Fellow in the University of Bristol’s Department of Civil Engineering and Graduate Dean of the Engineering Faculty will be appointed as an academic representative on EWB-UK’s Board of Trustees during the conference.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
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